Friday, January 9, 2015

The First Week

This week was the start of school at Florence Academy. If I were to describe the schedule in one word, it would be “rigorous”! The days are long and the workload heavy, but it is wonderful to be able to devote so much time doing what I love best.

The beginning of the day is made up of figure drawing; every morning we spend four hours working on a small pencil drawing based on a different pose each day. Four hours may sound like a lot of time to spend on one drawing, but for a realist artist, it’s actually rather short. A finished, fully-rendered drawing can actually take weeks, and so it can be a challenge to capture the desired amount of visual information within this smaller time-frame.

Here you can see some of the four-hour figure drawings I have done; because they are unfinished, they still look somewhat geometrical, and there is little form, only flat shadow shapes: 
Day One

Day two: the foreshortening of the limbs from the seated pose made it extra tricky!

Day three: I feel like this was a real turning point, even in just that short amount of time. The instructor, whose rough sketch is beside my drawing, pointed out how I was limiting myself to only one breadth of line, thus making my drawing feel too mechanical. She suggested I use various qualities of line to describe how the light was affecting the specific area, (lighter, sharper lines in the light, darker, softer lines in areas in shadow.) The difference between this and my first drawing is especially evident; the result of paying attention to line quality is a much more organic description of the figure, giving it a feeling of more life. 
Day four (there aren't five drawings because the first day I had orientation)
Next week we are to embark on long-pose drawing, a large, finished drawing to be completed over a course of four weeks.

After lunch, I spend the second half of the day working on my cast drawing; Cast Drawing is a drawing of a cast of a sculpture, usually done in charcoal. I selected the mask of Saint Theresa from Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa. This is one of my favorite sculptures of all time, right up there with Michelangelo’s Pieta, so I could not resist making a cast drawing of it. Below you can see the original sculpture:
Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, by Bernini
Detail: This is the original sculpture of the face I will be drawing. I love how the highly polished marble allows for very soft, smooth forms, which will be a beautiful challenge to capture in chalk and charcoal.
 Before I begin, however, I am working on a value-study, a small version of the cast which captures only the basic values and shapes:
This tiny drawing represents the simplified values of the light's affect on the cast.

 This is not the final drawing, but a very small study for the larger, finished drawing. The goal of this exercise was not so much to capture an accurate likeness of the cast as it was a study of the varying degrees of light and shadow that will be used in the final drawing.

And there’s my first week at school. Next week I begin working on the major projects, a finished figure drawing and the cast drawing.

That’s all for now, Ciao!

Italian word of the day: Studiare; to study, as the first week has been spent mostly making studies to prepare for the greater projects to come in the following weeks.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing. Your work is beautiful!

  2. I feel like I am getting my own art lesson. Thanks for the updates. Wish you well.
    Kevin Montemagni (cousin)

    1. So glad you like it, thank you for following my progress!

  3. This is fascinating, Eliza. Thank you for the detail and the pictures. And by the way, I hope you'll have a chance to see the Bernini sculptures in Rome; they're overwhelmingly beautiful.

    1. Hi Felice! Sadly I was unable to make it to Rome with my family when they were here and took a day trip, but I hope to make it there Spring break or maybe some weekend. The Bernini sculptures will of course be first on my list to see!

  4. I agree with the pictues and detail. Now what about the food :). Love, Brenda

    1. Thanks Brenda! Yes I am very much enjoying the food here, that could be a blog on it's own :)

  5. Very Nice!! Enjoy the experience and thanks for sharing!

  6. So thrilled that you are doing what you love best! Thanks for sharing, keep it up. :)

  7. Wonderful start. Enjoy your time. It will pass quickly.